The Top 13 Controversies at Franklin: Part 9

Editor’s Note: After I’d posted my recent comments on Lee’s possible endorsement of John Bell Hood for army command in 1864, I started going back over a lengthy nine or ten part series I did on Eric Jacobson’s book For Cause & for Country: A Study of the Affair at Spring Hill and the Battle of Franklin.  I had totally forgotten about one of the longest entries, part 8 of the series, in a portion of which I spent comparing/contrasting what Jacobson and Wiley Sword, author of The Confederacy’s Last Hurrah: Spring Hill, Franklin, and Nashville, had to say about some of the numerous controversies at Franklin.  I dusted off this old piece of writing because I thought it might be interesting to readers who have read or who plan to read Stephen M. Hood’s new book, John Bell Hood: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of a Confederate General.

Without further ado, here is only a portion of Part 8 in the Jacobson series.  You’ll note that I had a lot of time on my hands in those days, when I was single, without children, and with a job I could leave on Friday and not think about again until Monday morning.  I’ll cover 13 controversies of Franklin in this new series, often in more detail than should probably fit into one blog post.  The entire series will appear at the bottom of this and ensuing posts over the coming weeks.


Comparison and Contrast

As I mentioned at the end of my last blog entry, I wanted to take a look at some of the main vignettes the Battle of Franklin produced, comparing and contrasting the coverage Wiley Sword and Eric Jacobson give to these events. I have listed each “incident” in bold below and numbered them approximately in the order in which they occurred. After each topic title, I have attempted to discuss how each author views each situation. I am especially interested in hearing readers’ takes on these situations, as I think it might generate an interesting discussion on the Battle of Franklin. I hope to do this also after the next entry in this series, covering Bate’s actions on the left and the close of the battle.

9. Featherston’s Confederate Brigade took massive casualties in a railroad cut from enfilading artillery fire at the Battle of Franklin. Was there any way to avoid this?

I thought I’d take a shot at answering my own question before rereading the pertinent passages from The Confederacy’s Last Hurrah and for Cause and For Country. Stewart’s Corps (of which Featherston’s Brigade was a part) already faced a shrinking mass of land over which to attack. In essence, Stewart was moving into the smaller end of a funnel, and it caused his men some serious alignment issues as they advanced. It makes sense, then, to believe that there was no way to avoid the deadly railroad cut without exposing the men to an even longer period of fire before reaching the Federal lines. It was a no win situation in either case in hindsight.

After perusing both books, this is also apparently a non-issue, or at least it was not discussed by the authors. Wiley Sword does not even mention this railroad cut, only discussing the one between the left flank of the Union line and the Harpeth River. Number 9 is not much of a controversy, similar to 6 and 7.

13 Controversies at Franklin


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